Rio has restaurants to suit every taste and budget with options for every size of group from two to many hundreds. Eating out is a major attraction with the Cariocas themselves so you can expect the best, be it that you choose top quality French cuisine, or something more traditionally Brazilian, such as barbecue or a filling feijoada. Feijoada is made with black beans and pork. It is typically served city-wide on Saturdays. For connoisseurs of meat, nothing beats a good rodízio.
In Rio de Janeiro you can probably find something to fit any craving. A good approach to local food is "comida a kilo" - buffet style restaurants where you pay by the weight of the food on your plate.
Southern churrasco has also claimed its stake (and steak) in Rio. Marius has arguably the best rodizio in town. Porcão has 5 restaurants around Rio, whereas Carretão has a good and cheap(er) rodizio.
Brazil has the largest population of Japanese outside of Japan, and sushi has become widely popular in Rio too.
Travellers with fatter pockets may also splash out a bit at the Dias Ferreira street in Leblon, Rio's up-and-coming restaurants row.
Rio is also famous for its pastries and street food, heritage from Portuguese and old European culture. In most cafeterias (lanchonete; lun-sho-NETCH) you can have a pastel (pahs-TELL) or salgado (saw-GAH-do; local pastry) for less than R$2. Typical pastries are coxinha (ko-SHEEN-ya; chicken nugget shaped like a chicken leg), fimose (fee-MOH-zee; sausage nugget), and unique Rio's joelho (zho-EH-lyo; rolled dough filled with ham and chease). Also try pão de queijo (pawn-deh-KAY-zho; cheese baked dough), typical from Minas Gerais but very common in Rio as well, and tapioca (typical from Bahia), a kind of crepe made out of manioca flour.
If your paladar is homesick for more familiar tastes, Rio has most of world-class fast food chains (McDonald's, KFC, Outback, and a few Subway and Pizza Hut shops) except for Burger King and International House of Pancakes. Bob's and Habib's are the biggest national fast food chains.
For drinking, ask for guaraná (gwa-ra-NAH; soda made of an Amazon seed), mate (MAHTCH; sweet ice tea; not like Rio Grande do Sul or Argentina's hot and sour mate), água de coco (ah-gwa-djee-KOH-ku; natural coconut water) or caldo de cana (caw-do-djee-KAH-na; sugarcane juice). There is also a common fruit called açaí (ah-sah-EEH), with a dark-purple pulp out of which are made juices, and ice-creams. Typical cariocas eat it like cream in cups or glasses, mixed with granola, oats or other flakes. There are many specialized juice shops that sell açaí, fruit juices (they make it as you ask, they don't store it ready, so you can ask them which fruit they have and may create a mix if you like) and some make sandwiches and other simple things to eat. These shops usually are cheap and hang fruits and the entrance or somewhere visible.
Botequim (pronounced "boo-chi-KEEM") also well know as boteco - These quite unpretentious bars with simple appetizers and lots of ice-cold chope (draft beer) are everywhere and are almost inseparable from the carioca lifestyle. Try Bracarense (85, José Linhares street, Leblon), one of the most traditional.
Juice bars, Of particular note for an often hot and muggy city are the refreshing juice bars, found on nearly every corner in the city. Choose from dozens of freshly squeezed fruit juices - mix two or three fruits together or simply try the freshly squeezed orange juice. For a delicious Brazilian special try the açaí, a smoothie made from a deep purple fruit from the Amazon.
Caipirinha, a drink made of cachaça (a Brazilian liquor made of sugarcane juice), lime, sugar and ice cubes.
There are many places where you can get the different drinks listed before:
- Kiosks along the boardwalk at Copacabana and Ipanema beach stay open all night.
- The Irish Pub, Ipanema, Rua Jangadeiros 14A, Praça General Osório - Best on Monday nights.
- Devassa, Leblon, Av General San Martin 1241, - A bar that's Best on Tuesday nights.
- Shenanigans, Ipanema, Rua Visconde de Piraja 112A, on the Praça General Osório - Best on Wednesdays, this second-story Irish bar shows only a green awning at street level. Has imported beer, American pool, imported sports on TV.
- Lapa A good bet for Thursdays, several bars and clubs, but the party is in the street. There you will find people dancing and playing Samba, Choro (soft rhythm with flutes and mandolin), Reggae and Hip Hop, as well as ballroom dancing (gafieira), but no Rock (except for some underground, which doesn't happen often or in the same place, but usually in some less known places of lapa) or Pop music. It can also be a very exciting and packed place on weekend nights. Be sure not to bring valuables, as there are a lot of pick-pockets operating in the area. Don't take it for the neighborhood with the same name in São Paulo, which is totally different.